Origin Story

The FOGcon Story

Friends of the Genre (FOGcon) is a literary-themed SF/F con in the tradition of Wiscon. We build community, exchange ideas, and share our love for the literature of imagination.

Between 2010 and 2020, FOGcon was a San Francisco Bay Area hotel-based convention, at Walnut Creek from 2011 onward. Then came COVID, and in-person conventions became difficult or impossible. We realized that with limited finances, volunteer burnout, and a higher perceived risk of cancelations, we would have to indefinitely postpone a return to in-person events. 

FOGcon started as a project done jointly by Friends of Genre and the Speculative Literature Foundation. In 2014, FOGcon secured its independent status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. However, after converting FOGcon to a series of virtual events in 2021, the administrative and financial burden of remaining a 501(c)3 was unnecessary.

Accordingly, we dissolved that, and as of 2024, found a home as a fiscally-sponsored project of Dream Foundry, which is itself a 501(c)3.

Genre Fiction

The definition is “genre” in fiction is as loose and baggy as the form of the novel. It can refer to setting (Western), intended audience (children’s or young adult fiction), subject (murder mystery), writing style (literary fiction), time period (historical fiction), or emotion evoked (horror, romance). Every genre has its own rules, traditions, ideas, and stock characters that the reader will expect to find. The reader enjoys the author’s skill in combining the familiar elements of the form with fresh ideas, unexpected twists, unusual insights, and evocative language.

All these and many more genres of modern prose fiction fall into two basic categories:

Realistic fiction, which places (usually) imaginary characters in recognizably true-to-life settings.

Speculative fiction, which places its characters in settings that are in some way counterfactual, and that difference from what we usually call “real life” is the driving engine of the plot. Perhaps all but one of a world’s unicorns have disappeared. Perhaps there’s a planet where human beings are almost all hermaphrodites. Perhaps the Roman empire is still going strong in the fifteenth century. What happens then?

Speculative fiction, what we are calling the Literature of the Imagination, answers that question, and in exploring small differences illuminates our common humanity.

Previous FOGcons

FOGcon 2020

Theme: Turning Points
Honored Guests: Mary Anne Mohanraj, Nisi Shawl
Honored Ghost: Terry Pratchett

FOGcon 2019

Theme: Friendship
Honored Guests: Becky Chambers, Karen Joy Fowler
Honored Ghost: Ursula K. Le Guin

FOGcon 2018

Theme: Performance in SF&F
Honored Guests: Andrea Hairston, Ada Palmer
Honored Ghost: Thomas M. Disch

FOGcon 2017

Theme: Interstitial Spaces
Honored Guests: Delia Sherman, Ayize Jama-Everett
Honored Ghost: Iain Banks

FOGcon 2016

Theme: Transformations
Honored Guests: Jo Walton, Ted Chiang, Donna Haraway
Honored Ghost: Octavia Butler

FOGcon 2015

Theme: The Traveler
Honored Guests: Kim Stanley Robinson, Catherynne M. Valente
Honored Ghost: Joanna Russ

FOGcon 2014

Theme: Secrets
Honored Guests: Seanan McGuire, Tim Powers
Honored Ghost: James Tiptree, Jr.

FOGcon 2013

Theme: Law, Order, and Crime
Honored Guests: Terry Bisson, Susan R. Matthews
Honored Ghost: Anthony Boucher

FOGcon 2012

Theme: The Body
Honored Guests: Nalo Hopkinson, Shelley Jackson
Honored Ghost: Mary Shelley

FOGcon 2011

Theme: The City in SF/F
Honored Guests: Pat Murphy, Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer
Honored Ghost: Fritz Leiber